Mohd Dilshad| TNN | 

Muzaffarnagar: In yet another instance of a kangaroo court delivering instant justice in serious criminal offences, a village panchayat in Bhopa area of Muzaffarnagar ordered four slaps as punishment to a 35-year-old man who allegedly attempted to rape a 13-year-old girl. A video showing the girl’s mother and villagers slapping the accused has gone viral on Sunday, drawing sharp reactions from social media users.
Taking cognizance of the matter, police registered an FIR under stringent sections of IPC and POCSO Act against the accused on Sunday. The accused have been arrested and sent to jail, said police. According to superintendent of police (rural) Ajay Sahdev, “After the matter came to our notice, the local police registered a case against the accused and arrested him.”

The incident took place on Friday in a village under the jurisdiction of Bhopa police station. The accused, a shopkeeper, had caught hold of the girl, dragged her into his shop and tried to force himself on her when she had gone to the man’s shop buy some cooking oil. The girl resisted and somehow managed to escape from his clutches and ran back to her home.

According to the victim’s father, “I was cooking for the children and had sent my daughter to buy edible oil from Lalit’s shop, but she rushed back home empty-handed and narrated the entire incident to me.”

The news of the incident spread soon and supporters of the family and the accused gathered and sought to sort the matter immediately. A panchayat was held immediately to decide the matter.

A villager, on condition of anonymity, said, “The family members and supporters of the accused called the panchayat at a house to sort out the matter. The panchayat found the accused guilty and ordered that he be beaten up as punishment for his misdeeds. The victim’s mother and some others villagers slapped him after which the panchayat let him go free. On Sunday morning, the video of the incident went viral.”

Now, villagers who were part of the panchayat are looking for the person who had uploaded the video on social media, the villager added. The panchayat members are of the opinion that it is an “internal matter of the village” and that the video should not have gone viral.

When asked about the mater, the village chief’s husband, Shahnazar Zaidi, told TOI that the matter took place in his absence. He said he was out of the village when the panchayattook the decision. “I was informed by the villagers that they needed to hold a panchayat immediately in my absence so as to punish the man who attempted to rape the girl. The victim and the accused belong to the same community.”